Coming soon: a new school year
My heart goes out to mothers like that - people who put a premium on the educational needs of their children. In this country, the opening of classes is always a major event. Although really quite unnecessary (and impractical) if we come to think about it, most parents do make it a point to make sure that their kids sport brand new uniforms and school bags complete with school supplies at the opening of classes; even if their old ones are still serviceable. I know this for a fact because my parents were like that too when we were kids. Perhaps because parents think it is one way to motivate kids to take education seriously?
Every school year, I would invariably end up with brand new school shoes (which where a pain to wear in the first few days and I always ended up with blisters), a new set of school uniforms, and school supplies (some of which were truly unnecessary really - I always ended up with rulers, crayons, watercolors, pencil cases, pencil sharpeners, protactors, etc., which I never get to use anyway and subsequently misplaced within the first few days of school). It never crossed my parents' mind to ask me if it was okay not to buy new ones, or which ones I needed to begin with - they somehow had this mindset that the opening of classes meant a new chapter in my school life that required all these new things. At least I never had to go through the superstitious rituals that others had to go through every year (like eating breakfast with shreds of paper from the pages of a dictionary on the first day of school). A friend of mine had to suffer that exotic menu once a year.
A friend of mine has this interesting theory related to this. He calls it the collective guilt complex of today's generation of parents. Because life is difficult, and perhaps because most parents work, they end up making up for their parental inadequacies by ensuring that they do not at least deprive their kids of whatever little luxuries they can give. Unfortunately, this has seemingly perpetuated a "materialistic" mentality among kids today.
It is a pity then that many traders take advantage of this societal trend. Parents are natural preys to the vagaries of market forces because what parent can resist the temptation to please their children? Thus, kids today have become exposed to consumerism at such an early age. Even school supplies have become designer items. I was aghast to find out for example how much an authentic Harry Potter school bag costs. As an offshoot, pirated goods have likewise sprouted; and this likewise exposes kids to the evils of piracy at an early age. Another example of how good intentions can warp values.
But it is always heartwarming to find that many parents still put a premium on education. Too bad most surveys indicate a downward trend on the actual literacy rate among Filipinos. Something is wrong somewhere and too bad good intentions are never enough to produce quality education. We seem to be a country of good parents but not of mentors (and I do not just mean school teachers, but parents as teachers as well).
And writing about this has reminded me how soon time flies indeed. It will already be May next week, and classes at the school where I teach begins May 22. Sigh. If there is any consolation to be had, it will be this: summer, and this infernal heat will soon be over. Obviously, summer is not my favorite season.